Surprise! The SEC has just reopened a slew of comment periods! Late Friday, the SEC announced that, as a result of a technical error, it had not received a number of electronically submitted comments for at least 11 rulemaking proposals. Accordingly, it is reopening the comment periods for those identified proposals for an additional two weeks. Presumably, that also means that none of the affected proposals will be considered for adoption for at least two more weeks as the staff takes into account the new comments—pushing some of those proposals beyond their target dates in the Spring agenda. (See the “Octobers” on the agenda in this PubCo post.) Big exhale or big disappointment, depending on your point of view! What’s more, it turns out that some major proposals were affected, including the climate disclosure proposal. (You recognize, of course, that that means there were actually more than 4,000 unique comments on the climate proposal!) The announcement advises that everyone who submitted a public comment letter on one of the affected proposals through the SEC’s internet comment form between June 2021 and August 2022 should check the relevant comment file on SEC.gov to determine whether their comment letters were received and posted. If your letter has been posted, you can just relax. If it has not been posted, you should resubmit it. The reopening release provides instructions on how to resubmit comments electronically or on paper, which are pretty much the same way you could submit them in the first place, so good luck with that.
Yesterday, the SEC announced that it had extended or reopened the public comment period on three proposals, including the proposed rulemaking to enhance and standardize climate-related disclosures. (See this PubCo post, this PubCo post and this PubCo post.) The comment period was originally scheduled to close on May 20, 2022, but will now be extended until June 17, 2022. (And rumor has it that the SEC will often accept comments submitted within a reasonable time after the deadline.) According to SEC Chair Gary Gensler, the proposal had “drawn significant interest from a wide breadth of investors, issuers, market participants, and other stakeholders….Commenters with diverse views have noted that they would benefit from additional time to review these three proposals, and I’m pleased that the public will have additional time to provide thoughtful feedback.” For example, in April, 36 trade and industry associations asked the SEC to provide a 180-day comment period, contending that, “given the size, scope, complexity, and ramifications of the rule,“ the time period allowed for comment was “woefully inadequate for the magnitude of this rule, which runs to 506 pages, contains 1,068 footnotes, references 194 dense academic and governmental reports, imposes a $10.235 billion cost on society, and seeks answers to 196 discrete questions.“ While the extension will certainly be welcome, will it be considered sufficient?